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Pappachis Moth

Passages:
The real blow came twelve years later, when, as a consequence of a radical taxonomic reshuffle,
lepidopterists decided that Pappachis moth was in fact a separate species and genus hitherto
unknown to science. By then, of course, Pappachi had retired and moved to Ayemenem. It was
too late for him to assert his claim to the discovery.
(P. 48) (Chapter 2, Papachis Moth)
In the years to come, even though he had been ill-humored long before he discovered the moth,
Papachis Moth was held responsible for his black moods and sudden bouts of temper. Its
pernicious ghost gray, furry and with unusually dense dorsal tufts haunted every house that
he ever lived in. It tormented him and his children and his childrens children.
(P.48) (Chapter 2, Papachis Moth)
Rahel saw that Ammu had a film of perspiration on her forehead and upper lip, and that her eyes
had become hard, like marbles. Like Pappachis in the Vienna studio photograph. (How
Pappachis Moth whispered in his childrens veins!)
(P. 69) (Chapter 2, Papachis Moth)
A cold moth with unusually dense dorsal tufts landed lightly on Rahels heart. Where its icy legs
touched her, she got goosebumps. Six goosebumps on her careless heart.
(P. 107) (Chapter 4, Abilash Talkies)
The moth on Rahels heart spread its velvet wings, and the chill crept into her bones.
(P. 108) (Chapter 4, Abilash Talkies)
Rahel watched him and her cold moth spread its wings again. Slow out. Slow in. A predators
lazy blink.
(P. 111) (Chapter 4, Abilash Talkies)
Like a deep-sounding bell in a mossy well. Shivery, and furred. Like moths feet.
(P. 139) (Chapter 6, Cochin Kangaroos)
Nothing.
On Rahels heart Pappachis Moth snapped open its somber wings.
Out.
In.
And lifted its legs.
Up.
Down.
(P.277) (Chapter 15, A Few Hours After)

The sight of Baby Kochamma made them suddenly sober. The moth with unusually dense dorsal
tufts spread its wings over both their hearts. Why had she come? Where is Ammu? Was she still
locked up?
(P. 299) (Chapter 19, Saving Ammu)
Inside the Inspectors room, Papachis Moth was on the move.
Its a terrible thing to take a persons life, Baby Kochamma said. Its the worst thing that
anyone can ever do. Even God doesnt forgive that. You know that, dont you?
(P. 300) (Chapter 19, Saving Ammu)

Question: Papachis Moth tormented him and his children and his childrens children. What is
the significance of Pappachis Moth, both to him and, by extension, his family? What do you
think this moth symbolizes for the characters? Why is the image of the Moth associated most
often with Rahel? Cite specific lines from the novel to prove your point.
Outline:
I.
Papachis Moth
Literal sense
It was Pappachis greatest setback in his life. He was frustrated after not having to
claim his right in the discovery of the said moth. It was a burden that he had to
live for the remainder of his life. As seen in (Page 48 Chapter 2), there was this
baggage that he had to carry with him everywhere he went. It was the reason for
his black moods and ill-temperedness. It was at that time that changed Pappachi.
II.

Symbolization
Fear
o Rahel
In (page 277, Chapter 15) After the boat sinked, they were both shouting for
Sophie Mol but she wasnt in sight. It brought fear to Rahels heart. *State the
passage*
o Estha
It was apparent in Estha in (Page 139, Chapter 6) when Sophie Mol has just
arrived in the airport. Ammu scolded him because he responded to Margaret
Kochamma rudely or not as Ammu taught her. He was filled with the fear of
Ammus punishment when they get home.
o Rahel and Estha
When Ammu was jailed, Baby Kochamma manipulated the twins. She said
that if they didnt turn Velutha in, their mother would rot in jail and its
because of them. Their hearts were again filled with fear. Fear of losing their
mother.

III.

Unhappiness
o Rahel
It was also a sign of unhappiness. It is evident in (P. 111) (Chapter 4, Abilash
Talkies) when Rahel saw how Chacko missed Sophie Mol. She was unhappy
that he had to go through all of that and because she didnt know what to do to
cheer him up.

Rahel
Unaccepted
She felt that she was such a disappointment to Ammu, which is why she felt
unwanted. Rahel was scared that Ammu would not accept her for who she is. It
can be seen in (Page 107, Chapter 4), when Ammu said that she loved her less. It
created a void that she couldnt fill. She longed for the day when she receives the
approval from her mother.
Generally unhappy